Wales and Ireland have named their sides for tomorrow’s World Rugby U20 Championship encounter at the Manchester City Academy Stadium.
Wales have made just one side to the side that started their last game, a 35-6 win over Italy that saw them clinch the Grand Slam at the RBS U20 Six Nations.
Tom Williams of the Ospreys is named by head coach Jason Strange, having recovered from injury. The winger replaces Owen Watkin, who was in the centres. Joe Thomas, who was on the wing during the Six Nations, moves to the centre alongside Harri Millard.
It is a first U20 cap for Williams, and there could be a second new cap should Josh MacLeod come of the bench.
Speaking at the squad announcement, Strange said:
“We are pleased to be able to have such consistency in our selection from our Six Nations campaign. We’ve had a great period of training and preparation and the players are now really looking forward to their first match tomorrow.”
“We know it will take a real team effort to do well against Ireland. After beating them in Dublin, they produced some impressive performances to beat England away and Scotland at home. We are focussing on our strengths and on our own performance. We know that if we play to the best of our ability and we stick to our principles of playing attractive rugby, we will be a competitive force.
“We have been working hard to keep making small improvements and our togetherness as a squad has continued to grow. We want to express that and keep the excitement going on the pitch starting with tomorrow’s match. Our aim is to stay focussed on our performance and on being the best we can be.”
Ireland’s team, named by head coach Nigel Carolan, has named four uncapped players in his squad for tomorrow’s game.
Openside David Aspil and rising star fly half Bill Johnston will earn their first caps right from the off, while Vincent O’Brien and Vakh Abdaladaze will almost certainly earn their first caps as front row replacements.
James Ryan once again skippers the side from the second row after his inspirational performances in the U20 Six Nations.
Interest from this side of the Irish Sea comes on the bench in the form of replacement half back Niall Saunders and Johnny McPhillips. McPhillips started every game in the Six Nations and was a star for Sedbergh before moving to Ulster, while Saunders made his debut at the end of the Six Nations, despite still being a pupil at Epsom College.
Speaking ahead of the game, Carolan said:
“The game against Wales is a hugely important test for this team and we’ve been building towards it since we came together as a squad a number of weeks ago. Wales are the Grand Slam champions so it’s going to be a challenging game, but one the players are looking forward to.”
“There’s a good mix to the team that’s been selected – the likes of Andrew, Adam and Jacob were here last year and can bring that experience into the squad, while there will also be some players winning new caps and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do in the green jersey.”
Wales U20 v Ireland U20 – Tomorrow, 17.30, Manchester City Academy Stadium – Live on Sky Sports 2
Ireland U20 XV
15 Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
14 Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster)
13 Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
12 Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
11 Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
10 Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster)
9 Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht)
1 Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
2 Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster)
3 Conor Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht)
4 Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht)
5 James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster, captain)
6 Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster)
7 David Aspil (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
8 Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
16 Vincent O’Brien (Cork Constitution/Munster)
17 Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf/Leinster)
18 Ben Betts (Young Munster/Munster)
19 Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster)
20 Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster)
21 Niall Saunders (Epsom College/Exiles)
22 Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster)
23 Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
Wales U20 XV
15 Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues)
14 Tom Williams (Ospreys)
13 Joe Thomas (Ospreys)
12 Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues)
11 Keelan Giles (Ospreys)
10 Daniel Jones (Scarlets)
9 Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys)
1 Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues)
2 Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets)
3 Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues)
4 Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues)
5 Adam Beard (Ospreys)
6 Tom Phillips (captain, Scarlets)
7 Shaun Evans (Scarlets)
8 Harrison Keddie (Newport Gwent Dragons)
16 Liam Belcher (Cardiff Blues)
17 Rhys Fawcett (Scarlets)
18 Leon Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons)
19 Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues)
20 Josh Macleod (Scarlets)
21 Declan Smith (Scarlets)
22 Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues)
23 Billy McBryde (Scarlets)